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    Dear friend.

    It has been a while, hasn’t it? Or, at the very least, it certainly feels like it has for me. It certainly felt like it had for me, after that day.

    You do remember, do you not?

    Twilight Sparkle, who I loved like life itself, had ended our friendship, and in the days that followed, not much else mattered. Days felt like months to me, long and tortuous and as painful as the illness that plagued my heart.

    And my body.

    As such, I want to ask a favor of you. An indulgence, if you will.

    Forgive me.

    Not me, of course, for I’ve done nothing wrong, but the Rarity whom I’m about to tell you about. The one we’ve followed throughout this story, who was foolish and in love and most importantly, foolishly in love.

    This is the story of a mistake. Not my first, and certainly not the last I shall tell you about, but the one where I set into motion a chain of events that I would not be able to take back.

    I was contemplating letting you rest. A little repose before we continue with this torrid, dramatic affair. But these things should be dealt with like a band-aid, or like a splinter. Quick, and easy, and in one fell swoop.

    Do you remember the tradition I told you about? How once a month, the workers of the Sapphire Carousel would get together to drink, drink, drink and talk, talk, talk?

    Well, our monthly meeting happened exactly four days after Twilight rejected me. Despite the fact I was, shall we say, on an emotional sick-leave from my night-job, I still attended our monthly ritual.

    This was my first mistake of the night.

    There we sat, the men and women of the night, talking and laughing, most everyone trying to pretend I wasn’t sitting at the corner, sullenly clutching a bottle of wine.

    Silver Doe presented her question to the council, wiping the cider off her mouth with a napkin.

    “What are things that you hate?”

    Well, wasn’t that easy!

    I hated Twilight Sparkle. Hated her with every fiber of my being. Twi-light Spar-kle. A silly little woman with a pretentious sounding name about shining and sparkling that was ill-fitting for someone as flat as her.

    I drank from the bottle.

    Gods, I’d loved her. I’d loved her.

    “I hate the rain,” said Amber Wind, staring out the frosted window. She breathed hot vodka-tinged air onto the surface of the window and traced a smiling face inside the resulting fog. “I hate the snow, too.”

    “Make me a snowman!” I’d asked Twilight early November, before the Christmas fight, the two of us seated on a snow-covered field of grass. I remember wearing at least six layers of clothes, looking much like a snowman myself. “And put a jacket on, for goodness’ sake.”

    She laughed, catching the jacket I launched her way and putting it over the thin shirt she was wearing. Northerners! She’d walk around in nothing but a skirt and blouse if I let her. I was getting a cold just by looking at her.

    “I don’t want to make a snowman. I’ve made enough back home to last me a lifetime.” She fell back onto the snow and extended her arms, swinging them back and forth. “I’ll make you a snow angel.” She sat back up. “Oh. I need rocks to use as markers so I’ll get the dimensions right.”

    I watched as she stood up and trailed around me, kicking the snow and picking up rocks scattered about.

    “But I want a snowman!” I whined like a petulant child, yelping when she playfully kicked snow my way. “Twilight!”

    “You make me a snowman!” she shot back, walking back to her spot and placing the rocks down on the ground. She laid back down and extended her arms and legs. “Here I go. A mathematically perfect snow angel.”

    “I’m not making you a snowman,” I muttered loudly, gathering clumps of snow and doing exactly the opposite. “Ooooh! I’ll give it a scarf made out of leaves!”

    She was so excited by my creation when I was done, she made me wait in the park alone for an hour so she could go fetch her camera and take a picture.

    I drank again.

    “I hate nights when I can’t see the stars,” Sunny Days said next, pouring wine into her glass and making me think of the many nights Twilight and I sat on Stargazer Point, looking at the stars with wonder and awe.

    “I hate being cold,” Meadowlark sighed, and I drank, remembering the many times I’d noted I was cold and Twilight practically tripped over herself offering me her coat.

    One after another, my companions listed out things they detested, and I drank to each one, able to associate a stinging memory of Twilight to every statement. Rider’s hatred for books reminded me of Twilight reading to me in the park while I sewed, after I’d protested I didn’t have time to do so myself. Ivormory’s drunken rant against the fortune-teller who’d told her she’d be rich by now reminded me of Twilight’s lecture on why I had been silly to get a palm-reading on my way to see her.

    Eventually, the circle of hate and disdain turned to me, and the air visibly changed. Where before everyone had been laughing and teasing each other, dramatically venting things they loathed, now they all seemed to sober up when faced with my impending declaration.

    Even though I was staring out the window, I could see them watching me from the corner of my eye, hesitating on what to do. Skipping me would doubtless invoke my rage and indignation, but asking me to participate brought with it the possibility of a truly intoxicated vicious speech.

    It wasn’t that they didn’t sympathize with me! Or that they did not care for me expressing my pain.

    They just didn’t rightly know if it would be healthy for me to dwell, which I had already, spending the entire night thinking of how much I loathed Twilight Sparkle.

    “Rarity?” Shimmer Glass asked, because of course she would be the one to ask, a kindness to her voice that almost soothed my hurt. Shimmer cared for others so much, she could hardly stop herself from reaching out when she saw someone in pain. “Care to tell us what you hate?”

    I think I laughed. Some choked sort of thing.

    What did I hate!

    In a fashion that I’m sure would have horrified Lady Celestia, I grabbed my bottle of wine and swigged the last of it in several unseemly gulps. A crimson droplet rolled down the edge of my lip, nearly reaching my chin until I licked it away.

    I spoke with care.

    “I hate magic,” I said, and my God, I hoped Twilight could feel it somewhere. That I hated this thing she so loved and prided herself in. “It’s useless. A dying art for pretentious, rich people that can afford to be educated in it. An easy way out for people who aren’t really better at anything else so they hide behind cheap parlor tricks that seem impressive at a glance.”

    I smiled at my reflection, and with a thrum of my fingers, the bottle of wine struggled to float up. I had been taught to be a lady because I ‘did not have the talent’ for magic.

    “I loathe magic.”

    I expected them to say something. I wanted them to say something. To offer witty banter, some sort of remark that would make me laugh. But they didn’t.

    They felt sorry for me.

    And so, in that moment, I hated them, too.

    I stepped out into the freezing streets about an hour later, messily buttoning up my jacket as Rainbow Dash ran out behind me.

    “Rarity! Where the hell do you think you’re going?!”

    “Out!” I spat. “Is it not obvious?”

    “Out?! Are you insane?!”

    She stopped in front of me, extending her arms to the side. As if she could stop me! As if she could stop me from… from what, I don’t know, but whatever it was, I’d have my way and to hell with her.

    To hell with them all, I thought.

    I pushed her away and stomped further into the street, inebriated by booze and anger that shredded me to pieces, burned me like the biting cold against my skin. I wanted to get away from the Sapphire, away from it all, from the city that was now Hers because she lived there, and I loved her, and she told me no.

    “Rarity, please!” Rainbow Dash insisted, bless her soul, even if the profanities she shouted my way were hardly worth blessing. She really did care for me, didn’t she? As a child, I’d never imagined my best friend to be the foul-mouthed bouncer of a brothel, but I also never imagined I’d be a prostitute, so really, what did I know?

    “Come on,” she continued, catching up to me. “What is this?! Look, I get it! I do! You’re pissed, and hurt, and you miss her, and whatever! I get it, Rares, but what are you doing here? What’s the point of this?!”

    I spun around.

    “I want to walk, Rainbow Dash! Is that not allowed?! I want to walk!”

    And when my eyes bled with tears, I hated myself, too.

    “I want to walk.” I marched up to her, shoved myself against her. Hissed every word, every syllable seeped with the stench of my rum-filled breath. “Walk until my feet hurt and bleed, until every street is crimson my blood and the pain is so much that it’s the only thing I can think about and maybe then—!” My voice cracked, and I hated myself even more. “And maybe then I won’t have to think about the fact that… that…”

    I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

    “I want to walk,” I finished, this pathetic whimper of a whisper, and I half-expected her to protest. Half-wanted her to do so, to insist this was stupid, and to take me home and tuck me into bed and all I’d have to contend with in the morning would be a throbbing head and chastizing employer.

    But she didn’t.

    “Okay,” she said instead. She threw her hands up in the air. “Fine, Rares. Fine. Let’s walk.”

    She’d agreed.

    And in retrospect, it would have been better if she hadn’t.

    Twilight sang for me once.

    I’d been sitting in one of the city trains, late into the night. My face was pressed against the frosted window, my eyes following the ever changing scenery of the city. I don’t remember exactly where I was going, or where I was coming from. I was only barely aware of the other tired commuters coming into the train, sitting down haphazardly on the seats and relaxing after another day of being alive.

    It was at Hallow Spring Cross that it happened.

    We stopped at the station, and my eyes glazed over the people waiting on the platform until they stopped on Her. There she was, my darling beloved, her nose stuck in a book while she waited with the others for the door to open.

    When they did, she followed the crowd into the train and though my eyes followed her, as they always did and always would, hers failed entirely not only to follow me, but to see me at all. She made her way a few seats away from me and sat down by a window, still ensorcelled by her book.

    I considered my options. Perhaps I should call her name, beckon her to me, but I was tired and did not feel particularly conversational. I could let her keep reading and then mention the event whenever I saw her next. I could also say nothing at all; my little secret to be mine and mine alone.

    But, instead, I sang.

    I closed my eyes, leaned my head against the window, and sang her a song from my childhood; about love, and dreams, and monsters of the night. I didn’t care what the others thought, or if it was rude or not. I wanted to sing for her, and so I did. I didn’t open my eyes when I was done. I didn’t want to find out just yet if she’d heard me or not. Or, perhaps, I was afraid to find out she hadn’t.

    Just as I had been afraid of her finding out who I was. What I’d done.

    The thrill of exposing yourself goes hand in hand with the possibility of being hurt, but sometimes…

    Sometimes, you’re rewarded for it.

    It was so soft, so gentle at first, that I didn’t even realize she was singing until I opened my eyes and saw her myself, her eyes meeting mine.

    How beautiful, she looked, in this dim-lit train with her tired eyes, and her gentle song, and her silly affectionate smile that could scarcely match my radiant grin. I feared the other commuters would shush her, snuff away this rare moment where we were just two silly young women, but they didn’t.

    The old man sitting behind me folded away his newspaper, giving her his full attention; the young woman at the back leaned in, softly singing along; the teenager near the front rolled his eyes but did not look away.

    In this one moment, everyone in that train had eyes for Twilight and Twilight only. But her?

    As I lay my head on the backrest of my chair and listened in, Twilight Sparkle only had eyes for me.

    I thought of that moment that night, sitting in a train with Rainbow Dash, our bodies rocking along with the vibrations of the carriage I’d boarded because it was there and I was angry and I’d do what I want.

    I wanted to poison the memory. Twist it and transform it, darken it with the new understanding of this woman who so easily dumped me. Twilight Sparkle had been stupid to sing, I told myself. She didn’t even do it well. She wasn’t being cute or enchanting or charming; she was being annoying and I’d only liked it because I was an idiot.

    I was decently sober by that point, but unfortunately not enough that I would try to fight my worst instincts.

    The train eventually stopped and I forced myself up, wanting to continue my aimless, furious journey. I ignored Rainbow Dash when she asked me where we were going, and when I stepped out onto the platform, I stomped my way towards the street.

    Until my feet bleed, I’d said, and God be my witness, so it would be. ‘Til every street in the city bled crimson like my heart.

    “Rarity!” Rainbow insisted, catching up to me and grabbing my wrist. She looked around us, at the neighborhood we were in, and then back to me. Her grip tightened. “Rares. I don’t think this is a good idea.”

    I gestured to the station.

    “The train back home is right there, then. Go home.”

    Rainbow gritted her teeth. “No, Rarity. That’s not the point.” She let go of my wrist and balled her hands into fists. “God. No offense, but you’re being a total—” She cut herself off, the dear actually trying to compose herself. “You know what? Nevermind.”

    “I’m being a total what, Rainbow?” I hissed, stepping up. “Say it. Come on, then! Say it.” My eyes filled up with tears. “That I’m a bitch! Isn’t that what you want to say? Well, so be it! Because being nice apparently doesn’t matter worth a damn! Maybe if I’m a bitch, it won’t hurt when people throw me away like a piece of trash!”

    Her expression softened.

    “Rares…”

    Unfortunately, this only incensed me more.

    I turned around and marched away, infuriated as I wiped away my tears. Not at her, mind you, but at myself. I’d allowed myself to be vulnerable again, and I loathed that I had. I loathed to see what I thought was pity.

    I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want empathy because I didn’t care for Twilight.

    Actually, I hate her, I told myself with every step. I despised her. I didn’t love her; I never had! In fact, I didn’t know why I cared so much! We weren’t even anything! I was so stupid! An idiot, a fool, walking around heartbroken over someone who’d only ever been a friend.

    But that’s not what’s important right now, is it, dear friend?

    You see, I was walking on… how shall I call it? On auto-pilot, I suppose. So focused was I on my mental gymnastics of convincing myself I hated Twilight, I hardly paid attention to the surroundings I’d subconsciously led myself towards. If you were to ask me to close my eyes and say where I was, I genuinely would have not known.

    Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, knew perfectly well where we were.

    She recognized the posh streets and high-end shops; the large houses worth more money than every apartment in her complex combined. All these things and more she knew, but none she knew better than the terrifying sight of a large white mansion looming in the distance.

    “Wait, wait! Stop!” she blurted out, rushing up and planting herself in front of me. The alarm in her face was enough to force me to comply, even in the midst of my hateful haze.

    “What? What’s wrong now?”

    “Rares, please. This isn’t a good idea. You might think it is, but it’s not.”

    “What? What are you talking about?!” I asked, irritated. “What isn’t a good idea?!”

    In response, dear well-meaning Rainbow Dash doomed us all.

    “Wha—What do you mean?! The mansion!”

    I blinked at her. “The mansion?”

    She blinked right back at me. I could see it in her eyes, the quiet dawning comprehension followed next by the colorful expletive ringing off in her head. It’s very likely that, had she not said a thing, I’d have walked past the mansion and not even realized I’d done so.

    But thank goodness that wasn’t the case, because that would make for a dreadfully boring story.

    No, dear friend. As Rainbow Dash stared at me, horrified by what she’d revealed, I looked around and felt time stand still at the sight of Twilight Sparkle’s mansion.

    I thought it was a joke, at first. A cruel joke of destiny, leading me to Twilight’s house so as to mock me. But I quickly changed my mind.

    No.

    It wasn’t a cruel joke that led me here. It was destiny telling me to go and defend myself. It had brought me here for one reason and one reason only: to tell Twilight Sparkle in no uncertain terms what I thought of her.

    I walked past Rainbow, single-minded in my mission, the anger inside me building and building until I reached the silver gates. They were locked, but that didn’t overly bother me. The lock was broken, you see. There was a way of twisting it into opening, a little error in design that I’d discovered and kept to myself as a child.

    Rainbow’s voice faded into the background when I reached towards the lock and twisted it with magic, my heart pounding in my chest when it unlocked.

    When it fell to the ground.

    Rarity,” Rainbow Dash commanded, and gone was my friend, replaced instead by the vicious head of security of the Sapphire Carousel. The warmth was gone from her face, the kindness from her voice, and when she slammed her foot on the ground, two truly large ethereal wings sprung from her back, extended for me to see. “You know what? No. I’m not playing around anymore. You’re coming home with me now.”

    She made a move towards me, her hand reaching out, and I immediately recoiled.

    “Don’t you dare touch me, Rainbow Dash,” I hissed. “Don’t you dare. Why shouldn’t I go?! Why shouldn’t I be allowed to know why she—!”

    “Rares—”

    “I loved her!” I said, the three words for the first time spoken out, and she immediately stopped. “I loved her. You know what I’ve done! You know who I am! Don’t you care that she— she threw me away like— I loved her.”

    A moment went by. She breathed in deeply, and finally spoke:

    “Fine. I’m not going to stop you, Rarity.” She jumped and flew up in the sky, hovering above me. “But you better still goddamn be here when I come back with a carriage to pick up your sorry ass when you regret all of this.”

    And with one last glance, she took off into the skies.

    I looked away from her fading form and towards the mansion, my hand gripping the gate. I scanned the dim windows until I finally settled on the lights of a room on the third floor.

    Twilight’s room.

    And my anger returned anew, given voice by the sound of the silver gate creaking wide open.

    I was well and truly alone now with nothing else but my harrowed memories, whispering with every step.

    A step forward, for when we met on that stupid bench.

    Another, for when we went looking for Sweetie Belle together.

    Another, for all the times we giggled at the café, and another for all the times we had picnics in the park, and another for our stupid date on that stupid lake, and another and another and another for all these stupid silly moments I stupidly thought meant she cared about me as much as I cared for her.

    loved her. I’d loved her, and I thought she’d loved me, and I was wrong, and it was unbearable and so by the time I reached the door, I was enraged.

    I slammed the front door open without any regard for the delicate wall the doorknob smashed itself against and then marched straight in.

    Flint must have been close, as not even a minute went by before he rushed into the foyer, alarmed. Who in their right mind would dare make such an entrance, he must have thought.

    “What in God’s name—”

    He choked on his words when he saw me standing defiantly in the middle of the lobby, looking like an absolute disaster from my hair, to my makeup, to my clothes, to my very psyche.

    Flint knew this day would come. He’d said as much when I was a misbehaving child, wagging his fat finger at me and scolding me in his gruff, low voice.

    “One day,” he’d say, “one day, you’re going to do something so naughty, only God will be able to help you.”

    But he was wrong.

    If there was a God, he’d clearly forsaken me a long, long time ago.

    “Dear lord,” he whispered, pale like a ghost. He stumbled back, pressing a hand against the wall for support. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t give him a heart attack. “I knew I should have stayed in bed today.”

    Where is she?” I hissed.

    This seemed to snap him back to reality, and he quickly composed himself. A great frown marred his face, and what a blast from the past when he wagged his thin frail finger my way.

    “What are you doing here?!” he shot back, but only as a whisper. “What’s the meaning of this, child?! Do you know what time it is?!” He took a second look at me, and gasped. “Have you been drinking?”

    “Where. Is. She?” I repeated myself, and again when he walked past me and went straight for the door.

    “Enough!” he snapped, gesturing to the cold outdoors. “This is no way to come in here! I will not tolerate this behavior, and especially not at eleven thirty at night! Get out!” He stopped and then added. “No. Wait for me by the carriages! I bloody well can’t let you wander out at night like this.”

    “I’m not going anywhere!” I shot back. “Why do you all want to get rid of me?! What have I ever done to any of you?!”

    It would seem that struck something within him, much like earlier with Rainbow Dash. His expression softened, and I looked away before it could get to me, before I lost grasp of my anger.

    “Where is she?!” I demanded, looking out into the lobby. I yelled it, wanting my voice to fill every inch of these halls Twilight called hers. “I deserve to see her! I deserve to tell her that—”

    And then came Her voice.

    Gentle, concerned, motherly.

    Celestial.

    “Flint? Flint, what’s happening?!”

    If there was a color whiter than white, Flint had found it.

    “Dear Lord, now you’ve done it,” he whispered, and indeed I had for who rushed in at the top of the stairs but Lady Celestia herself, hurriedly closing the silk robe she’d put over her nightgown right up until the moment she saw me.

    I’d forgotten.

    I had! How silly, isn’t it? How absolutely absurd, but I had.

    I was so consumed by Twilight Sparkle, and how she’d slighted me, how she’d rejected me, that I saw all of these things as hers and hers alone: the mansion, the pain, everything.

    Twilight Sparkle, she who’d walked on water, had done the impossible once again: she made me forget about Lady Celestia.

    I felt as shocked as she looked, the two of us gaping at each other across the crevasse that was her mansion and our fractured relationship. I was wholly and absolutely unprepared. Twilight, I knew how to handle. Twilight, I’d spent the entire godforsaken day practicing and perfecting exactly every word I’d tell her.

    But Lady Celestia?

    There were no words to be said.

    There was just pain.

    And something else, as well. Something that I long ago thought I’d burned away and only resurfaced when she took several steps down the stairs, her face twisting with concern.

    “Rarity?” she asked, and there was no anger in her voice.

    No disgust, no rejection, no shame and disappointment.

    There was concern.

    There was love.

    “Rarity?” she asked again, and my stars, my stars, my stars. She lifted her glasses off her head and put them on, like she had so many times before when she wanted to give me her full attention, and when she spoke again, it killed me. “What’s wrong? What’s happened?!”

    There was love, and my God, it burned me and it burned me even more when tears filled my eyes as I realized I’d longed for those words, I’d longed for that tone of concern, now more than ever as my heart bled to death.

    “Wh-what’s wrong?!” I spat, or tried to at least, grasping this anger that was slipping in between my fingers. My voice cracked, and I could barely get the words out. It wasn’t even that the woman I loved didn’t love me back.

    It was that she didn’t even want anything to do with me.

    “What’s wrong—?!” I choked. “What’s… What’s wrong…”

    Of course I couldn’t see it then—it’s not as if I could stop everything and ask for a few minutes to reflect—but I wonder if that was destiny’s design. If I’d subconsciously gone to the mansion not to confront Twilight, or to yell at the world, but for that.

    Maybe the reason I was there was because days after the worst imaginable pain I’d ever gone through in my life, all I really wanted was to cry in the arms of my mother in all but name.

    Even if just for a little while.

    It would seem the Lady wanted that, too, for as soon as my voice cracked, as soon as I broke into sobs, she did not walk down the stairs.

    She ran.

    And when her arms stretched out towards me, I rushed forward, buried myself in her chest, and feeling her arms wrap around me, I wept like I hadn’t since the night of the performance. I was barely cognisant of anything else save for her embrace, gentle and warm and lovingly guiding me to a quieter room within the mansion where we sat on a couch and I continued to cry.

    I…

    Relationships are complicated, aren’t they?

    These messy tangled webs of feelings and emotions because people have entirely too many feelings and emotions and not nearly as many ways of properly communicating said feelings and emotions.

    I suppose it’s easy for me to say all of this now that I’m looking back. Now that my story is done, in more ways than one.

    In that moment, everything was fine.

    In that moment, as I wept and she held me, we both understood each other. Words, I’ve found, complicate things. Twilight would vehemently protest this, I’m sure, but they do.

    I feel like I’m going around in circles. Am I? I might be. Distracting you, for what follows next is not…

    It’s not pleasant.

    And it starts with Flint Sparks.

    He came back, looking pained. His eyes flitted towards me and then back to the Lady.

    “Ah, ma’am…” He cleared his throat. “She should be back soon.”

    Celestia’s embrace changed. Her grip tightened around me, nervousness flashed through her eyes, but she soon hid it, as she did most things. She smiled thinly.

    “Thank you, Flint.” Her gaze turned to me and then returned to him. “It’s late. Can you prepare the carriage? We should take Rarity home. She needs sleep.”

    The words tumbled out my lips.

    “Who should be back soon?”

    Lady Celestia froze. Then spoke as if she hadn’t.

    “Ah! A guest.” She licked her lips, smiling kindly. “Someone is staying here with us. Anyhoo!” She made a move to get up. “Come now—”

    “It’s your student,” I continued, and again, she froze. “Isn’t it? Twilight Sparkle. I know you took her in. I’ve known for a while.”

    I could see it in her eyes when she looked at me again. The immediate panic, like a frightened wild animal, gauging me. But what was there to gauge? There was no anger in my voice. If anything, there was hope.

    Desperation, even.

    “She…” The Lady faltered, but she forced the words out. “Yes.”

    “I can wait, then. I would greatly enjoy meeting her. Really.”

    Bear in mind, I meant no ill will towards Twilight. It was not my intent to meet her with Lady Celestia there as any sort of mean-spirited joke or such thing. Twilight Sparkle, the woman I love, didn’t matter to me at that moment.

    This was about Lady Celestia letting me meet her student.

    Sure! Yes. Of course. Twilight would have a heart attack and a half, but she’d surely play along when I did. She’d understand! Surely, she’d allow me that. When and if the Lady introduced me, that was all that would matter.

    That she wouldn’t try to hide me away anymore.

    Like the pictures she’d taken off.

    Like the door she’d locked.

    The child she’d all but erased, save for the little bracelet she still wore round her wrist.

    We were strangers when we first met, but now we could once again be the best of friends.

    Please.

    The panic remained in the Lady’s eyes when faced with my request. If anything, it grew. A shamed panic that was not unwholly unfamiliar to me. The one that consumes you, whispers in your soul because you are about to be caught in a lie.

    But it was unnecessary.

    As I said, there was no anger in my voice, nor in my eyes, nor in my heart. I wanted to forgive her. In that moment, I already had.

    “I see.” She was honest, I’ll give her that. Honest with her damning statement. “She doesn’t know about you. I… I haven’t told her.”

    She spoke with great care, every word a carefully placed domino that threatened to tip over the others and ruin her grand, delicate design.

    “Because of my profession.”

    She didn’t reply, which I suppose was a statement in itself.

    I imagine she expected me to be angry. Furious, even, livid.

    could have gotten angry. In fact, for the briefest of moments, I felt angry. Obviously, I already knew she’d said nothing of me to Twilight, but to have her confirm it herself, well… it stung. It stung, but I held it in. Suppressed my anger.

    As I said, I’d forgiven her already. I was desperate.

    Surely she’d accept me now, exactly as I was. After everything we’d lost, after how much we clearly missed each other, surely something as trivial as my profession didn’t matter anymore. Surely she accepted me now.

    Surely.

    I wiped my tears away. “It’s fine. I’m not angry. I understand why you did it, but it’s over now, isn’t it?” I… I almost waited for her reply, but then I quickly continued, afraid of what a pause might bring. “I’d love to meet her.”

    I smiled, wiping my eyes.

    “I’ll go clean myself up a bit?”

    “Rarity. It’s nearly midnight,” she said, firm.

    “I… Of course! Of course, you’re right. I can clean up, but not that well!” I conceded, laughing even though my hands were trembling. She had a point, I told myself. “I can come some other day, then. Can’t I? When would be appropriate?”

    The Lady swallowed, both at my request and my choice of word.

    “I’m flexible,” I insisted.

    “…I’m sure you are, Rarity,” she said, despite herself, “but… It’s not… It’s not that simple.”

    “It won’t ever be simple!” I exclaimed with frustration, and I then quickly composed myself, keeping the tears at bay. “I’m sorry. Please. I… It doesn’t have to be difficult. I promise. When can I come? Please.”

    I was so blind. Or, more likely, I was shutting my eyes oh so tight.

    “Rarity.” She breathed in. “Please. Don’t be difficult. It’s not that simple.”

    “I’m not being difficult!” I exclaimed, standing up. “Why can’t I meet her?! Why won’t you let me?! What’s the problem?!”

    “You’re not like her!” she shot back, and though she immediately tried to compose herself, what was said was said. “Rarity, please—”

    I’m not like her?” I repeated, softly and slowly initially, taking in this statement and its thousands of suffocating layers. I no longer cared to hide my tears. They filled my eyes, as burning hot as my soul. “What do you mean I’m not like her?!”

    Her voice quieted.

    “You know exactly what I mean.”

    I laughed. “Do I? Because I really think I don’t! Please! Please, explain, Auntie Tia! She’s not like me? Well then, she must be some sort of terrible person because I’m not. I’m a good person! Aren’t I?! I work hard! I’m kind to the people I meet! I try to be informed! I try to be educated! I volunteer at the local shelter when I can! I’m not—! I’m far from perfect, but I’m a good person! I am!” My voice cracked. “Does none of that matter?!”

    “Of course, it matters,” she replied “but—”

    “But what?! What?! I’m a lady, just like you taught me to be! I—”

    “A lady?!” sharply interrupted the Grand Lady Herself. She stepped up to me, tall and imposing and terrifying. “A proper lady would never dream of working at a brothel!”

    “Oh, really? Really? Then I suppose Auntie Luna isn’t a lady, either?!”

    “My sister may own a brothel, Rarity, but she certainly has more self-respect than to go to bed with complete strangers for petty cash!”

    I’m sorry. Allow me a moment to compose myself, won’t you, dear friend?

    Thank you. Shall we continue?

    What Lady Celestia did after that no longer mattered, but I’ll tell you, regardless, if only to paint you a complete picture.

    No sooner had the words left her lips, she regretted them. Her eyes grew wide, her anger vanished, and she immediately backpedalled, especially when she saw my reaction.

    When I’d run into that mansion earlier that day, Lady Celestia wondered with horror what could someone possibly have done to cause me such pain. She no longer had to wonder.

    I pressed my hand against my mouth and stepped back, completely shattered. That was a trend recently, wasn’t it? Shattering me. Were I a mirror that I could at least give them all seven years of bad luck in retribution. Ah well. Where was I?

    “Wait, I’m sorry!” said the Lady almost immediately. “Please. Please, I didn’t mean that. O-Of course you can meet her. Rarity!” Tears clouded her eyes when I turned around and walked out the room. “Rarity! Wait! Please!

    I was blinded by rage. By pain. By humiliation. I knew I needed to get out lest I decide to bring everyone down with me more than I already had. Lady Celestia ran after me, calling my name, begging me to stop, but I didn’t not just because to hell with her, but because if I stopped, I was certain I would say very, very terrible things.

    Nothing in that godforsaken mansion would ever make me pause again save for the young woman I crashed into just as I stepped into the lobby.

    I don’t think I need to tell you who it was, do I?

    I crashed straight into her, my dear beloved having just come home from a long day that was about to get longer. Any apology we had died in our throats at the sight of each other.

    She’d just come home from a walk. I could tell because she never took a purse when she went on walks, so instead she resorted to wearing a big blue coat with large pockets she’d stuff her essentials in. I would slip in sweets when she wasn’t looking so she’d have a treat when she got peckish.

    “Rarity!” Lady Celestia exclaimed, running up and practically screeching to a stop when she saw Twilight standing before me. “T-Twilight! You’re home!”

    There they were, two women I loathed as much as I loved, and there I was, sandwiched in between them.

    So I made a choice.

    “Well, well, well,” I hissed, stepping forward as she stepped back. “You must be Twilight Sparkle.”

    ‘Til every inch of that mansion was crimson with our blood.

    “The prodigal student of the great Lady Celestia.”

    It was fascinating to see how Twilight immediately transformed.

    The fear disappeared, the anxiety, all of it gone and replaced with nothing. She was wondrous like that, she was. When it came down to it, when it depended on it, she could get rid of her emotions and let herself become a living machine that analyzed and assessed and observed.

    The Lady moved towards me. “R-Rarity, please—”

    “I don’t expect you know who I am, do you?” I asked Twilight and then I turned to Lady Celestia. “Come now! Tell her, Lady Celestia! Tell her who I am!”

    Rarity—”

    “Fine! I’ll tell her myself, then.” I whipped around to Twilight and proclaimed for the world to know: “I used to be you.”

    She didn’t reply, and that infuriated me more. Her damned façade. I wanted to break it. I wanted to make her cry like she’d made me cry. So I walked in circles around her while she stood in place, her eyes carefully following me as I continued my vicious tirade.

    “I used to be you, the Lady’s protegé! Did you know I used to live here? I lived here for practically my entire life! This was my home. And then your teacher decided I didn’t exist. Decided that it was better to pretend she didn’t know me! And do you know why?”

    I stopped in front of Twilight. In front of Celestia.

    “Tell her,” I asked Celestia. “Tell her why.”

    The lady couldn’t speak. She was crying. I didn’t care.

    “Tell her!” I demanded again, slamming my foot against the floor. “Tell her why you’ve rejected me! Tell her why it doesn’t matter that I’m a good person or anything else about me! Tell Twilight Sparkle why exactly you told me I’m not like her!”

    And when she didn’t, I turned to Twilight and told her myself.

    “It’s because I’m a fucking whore! That’s why!” I stepped forward, bleeding, bleeding, bleeding. I could barely get the words out after that, but I did anyway. I hoped they stung. “Because the things I do with my body matter more than the things I do with my heart!”

    What a deathly silence came after that.

    I broke it soon enough.

    “But it’s fine. Now she has you, doesn’t she? Well, I hope you’re better than me, Twilight!” I stepped towards her, but she didn’t step back. Didn’t look away even when Celestia spoke up. Eyes on me and only me. “I bet you’re everything she ever wanted, aren’t you? I bet that you’re oh so wonderful, and oh so smart, and oh so fantastic at magic, and—and—”

    And I bet she would agree to meet at six and arrive fifteen minutes too early even though she knew I was always ten minutes late.

    I bet that when she spoke about subjects she loved, her smile shone so much it was blinding.

    I bet she could sing beautifully in dimly lit trains while stupid, lovesick women watched.

    I bet she was wonderful, and smart, and funny, fantastic at magic, and that I loved her so much, it hurt.

    I bet that she loved me, and that she knew that I loved her, and that none of that mattered anymore.

    I trailed off, the weight of it all finally collapsing upon me, and literally so when my legs gave in and I fell.

    It would have been nice if I fell to my knees by my lonesome, or if I fell sprawled to the floor. It would have been very pathetic, most certainly, but at least I’d be able to wallow in my patheticness and feel shamelessly sorry for myself.

    Twilight prevented that by immediately catching me and holding me steady, then gently lowering us down until we were on our knees. It was intimate. It was visceral, really.

    And it was there in her arms that I knew it was over.

    The time to whine and cry and complain was done now, and all that was left was to pick up the pieces and be a big girl.

    “I’m sorry,” I said, and though everyone could hear me, my words were hers and hers alone. I laughed, and my eyes stung from tears. “I guess I don’t take rejection well, do I?”

    That was what made her crack.

    Her eyes watered, her grip tightened, but in these things there was no victory to be found. No sense of satisfaction. In cracking Twilight Sparkle, and Celestia to an extent, I had also cracked myself.

    That’s what I’d always be to them, wasn’t it? Not a person working a job, not a woman living her life, not someone who was defined by more than a choice.

    To them, I would always be that vile slur I’d called myself. I had always known that, and yet I still went there expecting something else, and when I decided to hurt them both—which I did—it never occurred to me that the person I’d hurt the most was myself.

    I’d betrayed my values, my principles and beliefs, I’d let their prejudices get to me, and to make matters worse, I’d hurt Twilight.

    I took a steadying breath and then forced myself up, Twilight letting me go and following suit.

    I turned to the Lady when she sniffled, the both of us looking at each other as we earlier had when I’d first arrived. There was still love there. That’s the worst part of it, I think. The fact that there was still life beating in the mangled pulsing flesh that was the heart of our relationship.

    Everything I was, I was because of her.

    That was the problem, wasn’t it?

    “I shouldn’t have come here,” I said. “It was stupid of me. I’m sorry I did.”

    I didn’t mean that in a hateful or spiteful way. It was just… true. Coming there had been a mistake in more ways than one.

    When she said nothing in reply, I took a deep breath and turned to Twilight. She was still crying, the poor thing, quiet tears streaming down her face. I felt awful for her, so much so that I wished I could tell her it was over, and so I did.

    I smiled genuinely.

    “You know. Despite everything, I’m glad I met you. I hope you—I hope you enjoy living here as much as I did.” Then, just as she had the night of the performance, I raised my hand for one last handshake. “Goodbye.”

    Her eyes widened, and her eyes welled with tears yet again. My, my, how the tables had turned. When she did nothing, I re-emphasized my gesture.

    Please,” I whispered, my voice breaking. “Goodbye, Twilight.”

    When again she refused, I breathed in and balled my hand into a fist, lowering it shortly afterwards.

    “That’s quite alright.” I swallowed the lump in my throat and walked towards the door, which promptly opened before me with the flick of my wrist. I waited until I was right about to leave before stopping to say: “So then, ladies. I won’t be bothering you again. Have a good night.”

    And that was it.

    At half-past midnight, my darling dear beloved got what she thought she wanted: the perfect goodbye.

    I had single-handedly ended our relationship in such a way that I’d solved any and all issues that could arise from us meeting. I’d solved her issue about having to lie to Celestia about meeting me, I’d solved the pesky thoughts that kept her up at night, whispering about whether she’d done right or not; I’d literally done away with it all.

    She could now return to her life as a student and not have to deal with me at all because we’d said goodbye.

    So as she stared at her hand, the one she’d once extended to me and had that night refused to give, she realized that cutting someone off was one thing, but having someone cut you off was another thing entirely.

    Twilight!”

    She looked up to find Flint talking to her, his voice intermingling with her pounding heart. Lady Celestia was gone, she noticed, having left almost immediately after I did, breaking into tearful apologies and rushing off.

    Twilight blinked at him. Then at the door.

    “What happened?!” he demanded, and she could do naught but stare. “Aren’t you supposed to be friends?! What in God’s name is going on?! Twilight!”

    His voice faded out as she made for the front door, slamming it open as I earlier had and running out into the night.

    “Rarity?!”

    But I was gone.

    I couldn’t have gone too far, she thought, and so she rushed along the path to the gate right up until she stepped on something that cracked beneath her shoe. She immediately stepped back and felt her stomach drop when she picked up the now-cracked golden tube of crimson lipstick I’d had since I was thirteen.

    Lady Celestia said it herself. I wasn’t a lady, was I?

    No, no, no, no.

    She shoved the lipstick tube into her pocket and rushed off. The gates opened before her with a snap of her fingers, and she sped past them and into the street. She was right when she guessed I wasn’t too far. I was still on the same street, but to her dismay, Rainbow Dash had made good on her promise.

    There I was, sobbing my eyes out in Rainbow Dash’s arms while Lady Luna stood besides us, barking orders to the coachman of the carriage. Once she was done doing so, she looked around and her eyes fell on my beloved, paralyzing her in her spot.

    Rainbow Dash was next, still holding me tight, and Twilight felt shame when the sight of her made Rainbow Dash very visibly tighten her grip around me. Lady Luna said something to the younger woman, and immediately Rainbow ushered me into the carriage, taking great care of not letting me see Twilight.

    Twilight half-expected the Lady to follow suit and was thus surprised when the Lady simply closed the carriage door and then made her way towards her.

    An even greater shame flooded my beloved. It was likely Lady Luna knew what she’d said to me, didn’t she?

    In fact, this was the first thing she expected Lady Luna to say to her when she stood before her. To say that I was right to say all those things, and she was a prejudiced bigot, and all manner of things that were technically and awfully true.

    But Lady Luna didn’t.

    “Twilight Sparkle.” She gave Twilight a once-over. “I would ask how you are, but I think we can both agree that would be unnecessary.”

    “Will she be okay?” Twilight blurted out, and when the Lady said nothing and simply raised an eyebrow, she continued. “Please. Will she?”

    My Lady observed her a moment, then spoke: “I expect she will be. Rarity is many things, including especially a fool, but she is anything if not tough. It will take some time, but yes, she will be fine. Now, if that is all—”

    No,” Twilight blurted out, reaching out and grabbing my Lady. When the lady blinked at her—not offended, just intrigued—Twilight immediately let go and stepped back, ashamed. “I’m sorry! I—Ah.”

    “No?” asked my Lady. “Do you bring a message from my sister? Did she send you?”

    “No,” Twilight repeated. “No, I—It was my choice. I came here.”

    “So you did. But to do what, exactly?”

    “I-I don’t know, I—”

    “Is this not what you wanted? As you said yourself, It was you who made the choice, not Rarity,” interrupted my Lady, the sudden harshness in her voice betraying the fact that though she sometimes thought me a blundering fool, I was still her blundering fool.

    My darling, obviously, had nothing to say to that. She was right. She had made the choice, and she knew this. So, when Twilight offered no protests, my Lady’s anger diminished if only because she knew another insurmountable fact:

    “You love her, don’t you. That is why you came here.”

    And again, Twilight had no reply to give.

    Because she was right.

    “I’m not presumptuous enough to pretend I know everything about you, Twilight, but it seems to me this is not the ending you want, is it?”

    “I… I don’t know.”

    She thought it was, but, well, there she was, was she not?

    “Personally,” my Lady continued, “I think the further away Rarity is from my sister and her influences, the better. But I’ve learned that people will do what they want regardless of what I think. So instead, allow me a suggestion, which I hope you will follow as you seem to be more sensible than both my sister and my protegé.”

    She gestured to the mansion and then to the carriage.

    “This. This is the product of acting on your emotions without knowing exactly what you want. So for the sake of everyone.” She lowered her hand. “For your sake and Rarity’s, wait until you know what you truly want before you act, if you act at all. And be prepared for the fact that there may not be a solution you like.”

    “I know.”

    “Good. Then that is all I can ask for. I’ll take my leave.”

    With a curt bow, my Lady turned around and strode off five entire steps before abruptly stopping and turning around again.

    “My sister… My sister is not truly a bad person. But I believe she is misguided, and she’d sooner die on her hill of thorns before contending with the fact that she may be wrong. In many ways, you are much like your teacher, Twilight Sparkle.”

    Twilight winced.

    “But,” said my Lady with a smile, “I have the impression you can be better.”

    You can support me on

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    1. Silver Mint
      Sep 24, '22 at 1:11 am

      This chapter is an apex in this story, that is not to say that it’s all downhill from here.

      A lot happens here, and it’s beautiful in the way that it was somehow foreshadowed in that one single short chapter about how Rarity missed her mother so much when she left her in Celestia’s care that she could only bring herself to cry in Celestia’s arms after a while. We see that here again. Now, I don’t think Rarity subconsciously went to the mansion to see Celestia, but there was definitely a part of her who knew, simply blinded by the anger and pain.

      There is a lot going on here, and while we see it all from Rarity’s PoV, I think you managed to illustrate Celestia’s pain really, really well. She is full of regret. She feels remorse for what she did, for what she said, for what she thinks, but she is too proud to admit these things and will instead keep trampling on forward despite her best intentions to keep things as they are because she’s afraid.

      It’s tragic, but oh so very beautiful at the same time. Rarity could use her mother here, but she’s not present, and while Luna is her current ‘maternal figure’ Luna isn’t exactly warm in that regard. Rarity has more of an emotional attachment to Celestia, and well…

      Another thing I’d like to point out is that Twilight’s rejection showed Rarity that she was, in fact, never over the fact Celestia disowned her. Rarity and Celestia were ready to move on with their lives, ready to forgive each other, ready to start anew, but Celestia couldn’t take the step forward towards that and it all came crumbling down. The worst part is that she wants to, but as Luna says, she’s stubborn. Twilight is very similar, and that is probably why Rarity just can’t take her rejection because Celestia’s wound is still open.

      This chapter also gave a deeper glimpse into Twilight’s mind, what she was thinking when she decided to sever ties with Rarity and what she felt like when she realised her mistake at the station. She didn’t want to end, but there is really no turning back from this, is there? Or so she thinks anyway.

      Re-reading this has been a treat, I’m glad I decided to do so.

      1. Silver Mint
        @Silver MintSep 24, '22 at 11:04 am

        Oh! That was me rambling at 4 am and I forgot to say, I like how Rarity made the show Crimson Lips as a way to ‘get back’ at Celestia and her rules. It really shows that she’s not over her, misses her and just wants to go back.

        In a way, I’m like Celestia and Twilight to an extent. I don’t get it. I mean, I understand why Rarity feels the way she does, but I don’t understand why her job is so important to her, and why she chose that life for herself.

    2. A Deer
      Sep 4, '22 at 10:24 pm

      Sometimes pain needs to be let out. It doesn’t always happen in the best way, far from it. This chapter’s got me thinking about how that happens. Pain can be hidden or ignored then something frees it.

    3. platinumSKIES
      Jul 8, '22 at 11:31 am

      ALL I FEEL IS

      p aaaaaaa i n

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    5. Pinky102368
      Feb 5, '22 at 5:16 pm

      Wow.
      Just…wow. I am completely in awe.
      I’ve been in awe for the last few chapters, and I’ve been wanting to comment something (I don’t like seeing the phrase “0 comments” on any of these chapters, even if another site has more comments!). But instead, I’ve just clicking the arrow to go to the next chapter to read what happens next as soon as possible, because I’ve been a little obsessed with this story lately.
      But this chapter got me on an absolute emotional high and I just really wanted to say that.